Over the years, I’ve had to defend the news business on a number of occasions in conversations with friends, readers and listeners – depending upon where I was working at the time.
It’s not easy, because the press is a human institution and as humans we all make mistakes and we all have different judgments.
For instance, I can’t agree with the minimizing of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Mike Gravel. His fellow candidates want to eliminate him from debates and forums and the press wants to treat him like he is the comic relief for this election cycle.
After having the chance of meeting the senator and speaking with him, all I can say is that it’s refreshing to meet a politician who cares so deeply about his country but doesn’t give a damn about censoring himself. Gravel is viewed as “goofy” by some because he is actually candid.
On the Republican side, Congressman Ron Paul is getting the sticky end of the lollipop because he is seen as that side’s loopy sidekick. He, like Gravel, speaks his mind and that works against him.
We don’t like candid, now do we? We really don’t want politicians to speak their minds? I think so considering who gets the buzz for trotting out tired old clichés instead of solutions.
Here’s the irony: we respond to marketing and image-making more than honest opinion. We reject people with experience presenting new ideas for people whose images are carefully managed. Did anyone buy the warm story about Hillary following around a nurse all day so she could learn what nurses face? And if you did respond favorably to it, why?
Why did the press make a big deal over the Iowa Straw Poll? Twenty-six thousand people bought tickets to attend essentially a personality contest and to cast a vote for the candidate with the best band and barbecue. Twelve thousand people who attended didn’t cast a vote – or their votes weren’t counted. It’s a non-story about a vote that doesn’t mean anything.
It’s just another example of image and puffery triumphing over substance. By the way, to many in this business puffery is perceived by many as being “better” news because it’s more entertaining and easier to cover than that awful hard stuff.
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs